Since the 2000s, social media has rapidly taken over the world, but as its dark side continues to affect children detrimentally, it’s time to ask ourselves; is it worth it?

The sensation that is social media has affected everyone at least once in their lives, whether positively or negatively.

Nowadays, practically every young person has an electronic device that can access various social media sites.

As social media giants such as Instagram, Tik Tok and Facebook, continue to grow more prevalent every day, more children find themselves inexplicably drawn to these platforms.

This will then, in turn, open up an entirely new unknown for many.

In 2017, a report by the Education Policy Institute researcher Emily Firth revealed many key findings into keeping children safe as they venture into the world of social media.

The report found that the use of the internet has the means to help young people develop valuable digital skills.

Additionally, it showed that it could potentially give children positive reinforcement regarding communication skills and interaction in the correct setting.

With these savvy new skills, children would be able to navigate the internet safely.

For example, the report stated that 78% of children and young people who have contacted ChildLine do so via the internet.

Now more than ever, children are beginning to use such platforms from an early age.

A study by the charity organisation Barnardos revealed that more than a third of people began using social media at six years old or under in the UK.

At such a young age and lacking digital skills, these children are more susceptible to the unsavoury content shared online.

A report from the NSPCC relayed that their research in 2010 had shown that 13% of UK children aged between 9 to 16 had seen content on the internet that had ‘upset or worried them’ in just one year.

An example of a young persons weekly average and what applications they have used.

Many smartphones now come equipped with an application that can inform parents and guardians of the amount of screen time that their child is receiving.

However, even these precautions do not always safeguard young people.

The severe risks that are linked to young people using social media include cyber-bullying, depression and anxiety, the sharing of private information and harmful content.

Emily Firth’s report revealed that at least 34% of children had experienced one of these risks in the UK.

In 2019, the House of Commons released a report that stated that 54% of the 3,000 children they surveyed had been the recipient of ‘harmful comments’.

A spokesperson for the Education Policy Institute said: “The link between social media and mental health issues is undoubtedly apparent.”

“However, more research is no doubt required for us to understand the complex relationship between social networking and our children’s wellbeing issues.”

As technology continues to evolve and social media along with it, it is clear that we need more fail-safes in place to protect our young people from the dark underbelly of the internet.

So that we can protect future generations from the suffering that has sadly affected so many before them.



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